The Sea Eagles thumped the Knights 32-10 at Hunter Stadium in Round 19 last season.
The writing was on the wall for the home side with just 52 seconds gone when Manly co-captain Jamie Lyon finished off a length-of-the-field raid to score. Three more tries – including Lyon’s second off a deft Daly Cherry-Evans grubber into the in-goal on the stroke of halftime – saw the visitors rocket to a commanding 22-nil lead at the break.
Newcastle finally got on the scoreboard in the 61st minute when left winger James McManus crossed for the first of his two tries, but four-pointers to Steve Matai (68th minute) and Brett Stewart (71st minute) had the local fans heading for the exit gates early. McManus’ second try at the death added a modicum of respectability to an otherwise horrible afternoon.
However, Newcastle coach Rick Stone must have been scratching his head at fulltime given the stats that showed his team actually dominated most of the key categories: the Knights made 150 more metres, two fewer errors, a whopping nine more offloads and missed nine fewer tackles. But they had no answer to the Sea Eagles’ powerful running game, with the soon-to-be-premiers making five line-breaks to the home side’s one.